Djokovic eyes French Open final against Nadal as the clay season begins

Roger Federer on clay

Roger Federer on clay

The 31-year-old from Serbia will hope a switch in surfaces brings about a change in results - he has twice before been crowned champion in Monte Carlo, too. "I hope he does well", NIshikori said.

"After him, it's quite open".

Nadal will meet his compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round on Wednesday, the first match following his withdrawal from the BNP Paribas Open last month. His 46-match winning streak in Monte Carlo - broken by Djokovic in the 2013 final - is the most consecutive wins at a tournament by any man or woman. "Indian Wells and Miami were so-so - I'll try to pick that up and see how it goes on clay".

"He's been playing great tennis lately, winning two out of his last three events (Dubai and Miami with an Indian Wells final against Thiem). Definitely for our sport, it's better that he plays", Djokovic said. Zverev's older brother Mischa served as the host, interviewing players on site about their experience. There are a lot of guys who are tough on clay, especially Rafa and Novak (Dkjokovic). The top seed can tie Nadal's record of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles if he emerges victorious in the Principality.

"The beginning was a bit tough, I was hesitating, I was a bit slow, I was nervous and I was looking a little bit for the conditions", Wawrinka told the ATP Tour website. "I've had great form the past 12 months, great form".

That feeling should help him for the start of yet another comeback, a situation he has been in many times before, and one from which he has usually regained top form, fast.

But the Serbian resides in the Principality, so playing the first clay-court Masters 1000 tournament at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he trains when home, is nearly like a home-court advantage.

But this is Nadal, and this is clay, a surface on which he has been as dominant as anyone in history.

"It's very demanding physically, tactically, you have to be more patient, resilient, more enduring".

"My game and everybody's game will be tested big-time, but that's why we're here".

Austrian Dominic Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal in Paris last summer and the victor in Indian Wells last month, said that even the other players are curious to see how a potential Djokovic-Nadal battle might turn out. "I mean, certainly other Slams more than Roland Garros for Roger are, so to say - he has more chance to win other slams than Roland Garros, but he has won Roland Garros in the past". "The transformation of this club is quite unbelievable compared to the other times of the year when you don't have a tournament it's really calm and there's not many people".

"He can be a favourite to win any tournament".

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